WITNESS uses the power of video to open the eyes of the world to human rights abuses. By partnering with local organizations around the globe, WITNESS empowers human rights defenders to use video to shine a light on those most affected by human rights violations, as well as to transform personal stories of abuse into powerful tools of justice. Since its founding, WITNESS has partnered with groups in more than sixty countries, bringing often unseen images, untold stories, and seldom heard voices to the attention of key decision makers, the media, and the general public—catalyzing grassroots activism, political engagement, and lasting change.
A 2009 grant from the Cultures of Resistance Network helped WITNESS expand its Middle East and North Africa (MENA) program. As unrest occurred, activists were betting heavily on video and social media to organize, get their voices heard, and solicit international support. The grant helped fund a convening for citizens documenting issues in MENA, where WITNESS worked with key leaders involved in various movements to assess video and social media activists’ needs, as well as to develop strategies to address forward-thinking issues relating to the transition processes ahead. In addition, the grant helped WITNESS identify, disseminate, and translate innovative tools and tactics to help activists in MENA best use video to organize and gather footage for evidentiary purposes.